Conyers family to join reporter dad in China for Olympics
Newton teacher, student leave for Beijing today

COVINGTON - Hudson Newberry, a fourth-grade student at East Newton Elementary School, won't be in class next week. He's not at home sick, but his teacher thought he had a good enough excuse to miss a week's worth of school.

Hudson will join his parents, Paul and Linda Newberry of Conyers, on a trip to Beijing, China, for part of the 2008 Olympic Games.

Paul is a national sports writer for the Associated Press, based in Atlanta. He's been in China since Aug. 5 covering Olympic swimming events, including U.S. Gold Medal champion Michael Phelps.

Linda, a kindergarten teacher at East Newton Elementary, and Hudson leave today to catch up with him.

While in Beijing, the family will attend an Olympic diving event on Saturday and the Closing Ceremonies at the Olympics on Sunday. They will spend the rest of their time traveling to the Great Wall of China and other tourist attractions, as well as shopping and eating local food.

"We are very excited about this new adventure," Linda said.

Although traveling to the Olympic games is a once in a lifetime opportunity for most individuals, this isn't a first for the Newberry family.

Aside from Paul covering various Olympic games events over the years, they attended a speed skating event and the Closing Ceremonies two years ago in Turin, Italy, at the Winter Olympic Games; they also went to Greece for the 2004 Summer Olympics but didn't attend any events. The family also has traveled to Australia and other places overseas and in the United States when Paul was covering other sporting events.

"We love to travel. We get to see so many different things and experience different cultures and food," Linda said. "It's a great learning experience for Hudson."

When Linda and Hudson travel with Paul to various events he's covering overseas, the family is required to pay their own travel expenses and get their own event tickets. Sometimes they even forego traveling in the United States so they have the time and money to travel with him.

The Newberry family started taking Hudson on overseas trips when he was about 3 years old and has so far traveled to between 14 and 17 countries. Since he started school, Hudson's teachers and schools have accommodated the family when participating in such opportunities.

"He makes up the work and does it on the airplane, or he will make it up when he gets back," Linda said. "It always falls during the school year, though. Thankfully, it's usually around a school break."

Plus, he always brings back great show-and-tell items from his travels.

This year, since he's a little older, Linda said he's more excited about the trip and is especially excited about shopping.

"If it includes shopping, Hudson is all for it," Linda said. "He's looking for anything related to dragons, and he wants a kite."

Linda also plans to bring back some items for her kindergarten students, as she's done in the past.

"This year, I'm thinking more paper; it's the easiest thing to pack," Linda said. "When I went to Australia, I brought back pictures of koalas, and I brought in a boomerang."

Earlier this week while in Beijing, Paul called into Hudson's classroom using a video camera on a computer to talk to the students and teacher Stephanie Almand about Michael Phelps and share with them a shot of Chinese money.

"The kids got to ask him questions," Linda said. "Most of the kids wanted to know what (Paul) has had to eat."

She said while in Beijing, Paul had eaten donkey.

"That's nothing. Paul will eat anything; he's had horse before, so donkey isn't much of a stretch," she said.

Linda said Hudson is also looking forward to the food on the trip.

"He's definitely not a picky eater," she said. "If his father (eats it), he probably will. ... We keep teasing him about eating exotic food like scorpions on a stick. ... We are taking a jar of peanut butter, just in case."

Next, the family looks forward to attending the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics and the 2012 London Summer Olympics.

Michelle Floyd can be reached at michelle.floyd@newtoncitizen.com.